France on Thursday challenged the outcome of Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election, saying the declared victory of opposition chief Felix Tshisekedi was "not consistent" with the results and that his rival Martin Fayulu appeared to have won.
In remarks made just hours after the provisional results were announced, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tshisekedi's opposition rival Fayulu, who was declared the runner up, should have been declared the winner.
"It really seems that the declared results ... are not consistent with the true results," he told France's CNews channel.
"On the face of it, Mr Fayulu was the leader coming out of these elections. "
He said DRC's powerful Catholic Church, which deployed more than 40 000 observers to monitor the elections, knew who had really won the vote with their observations suggesting a win for Fayulu.
"CENCO carried out an inspection and declared a result which was totally different," he said, referring to the body representing the country's Catholic bishops.
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Last week, CENCO said it knew the outcome of the contested December 30 vote and urged the electoral commission to publish the results "in keeping with truth and justice".
Although it did not name the winner, its announcement drew a sharp rebuke from the ruling coalition.
The provisional results were announced earlier on Thursday, putting Tshisekedi on course to take over as president, replacing Joseph Kabila who ruled the nation for nearly 18 years.
In a country which has never known a peaceful handover of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, Le Drian called for calm.
"It is crucial to keep calm, to avoid confrontations and to ensure there is clarity about the results which are the opposite of what we expected, of what what projected," he added.